Removing a Low Ceiling
Dear Tim: We want to remove the low ceiling in the living room in a small cottage to give it more space and hang fans. We thought we could just paint the rafters and panel the roof. The problem is the boards between each rafter. Can these be removed or will this cause the rafters to warp or cause structural damage? Carl Gardner, Illinois
Dear Carl: The boards you refer to are probably the collar ties. They form the base of the triangle that forms the typical gable roof. These boards are a critical structural element, but they can be placed in different locations on the rafters and perform the same task as they do now. The only way to get a decision is from a residential structural engineer who knows how to analyze the bearing loads on the roof system.
Be sure that you install the new collar tie first before removing the existing one. Pay particular attention to any nailing schedule the engineer specifies. Install the nails and/or bolts exactly as indicated. If you are required to use bolts, drill the exact same size hole as the diameter of the bolt. You will need to hammer the bolt through the hole, but you want a snug fit so there is no movement between the rafter and the horizontal collar tie.